2021’s AMD vs. INTEL desktop processors: Which CPUs are better?

In recent years, AMD has been on the rise when it comes to desktop processors and graphics cards. It stepped up on the ladder and turned from a company that sold affordable processors, weaker than Intel’s, into a company that gave us the seriously impressive Ryzen CPUs. They’re just as fast as Intel’s CPUs, both in single-core performance and multi-threading. During the past few years, up until 2021, Intel struggled to keep up with AMD. The 10th generation Intel Core processors weren’t really able to compete with AMD’s Zen 3 Ryzen family. However, Intel recovered with its 11th Gen processors, and both companies are now offering excellent lineups. So which is better in the Intel vs. AMD standup? Should you buy an AMD Ryzen 5000 processor or an 11th Gen Intel Core? Read on and find out:

Intel vs. AMD processors: Manufacturing process, heat, and power consumption

Both AMD and Intel have capable processors; there’s no question about it. However, when it comes to specs, there are some differences between them. While Intel was almost always first in technological advances in the past, both companies seem equally advanced today.

AMD has switched to the 7-nanometer manufacturing process for both the Zen 2 and Zen 3 processors. At the same time, Intel was still using the 14-nanometer lithography for the 10th Generation of its Core processors but switched to 10-nanometer for their latest 11th Gen Core processors, launched in 2021. That leads to a series of benefits for AMD’s Ryzen processors compared to their Intel counterparts.

Because of the smaller manufacturing process, Ryzen CPUs usually have an increased density of transistors per mm² (a bit more than twice), generate less heat (lower TDP), and require less electricity than similar Intel CPUs.

An AMD Ryzen processor versus an Intel Core processor

AMD vs. Intel processors: Performance

Intel has a tradition of delivering desktop processors with incredible single-core speeds, and that’s true for the 10th and 11th Gen Core lineups as well. Still, because of the smaller manufacturing process, AMD processors reach similar speeds and performance on single-core while also offering more cores and threads than corresponding Intel CPUs.

AMD’s Zen 3 is a better-optimized architecture, featuring a new core layout and cache topology. That makes Ryzen 5000 processors able to deliver higher boost clocks, up to 19% more IPC (instructions per cycle/clock) than Zen 2 processors, and a lower cache latency than Intel’s Generation 10 Core processors. Still, the 11th Gen lineup also features a similar increase in instructions per cycle/clock compared to 10th Gen and gets on par with AMD’s Ryzen 5000 processors.

AMD Ryzen 5000 & 3000 processors specs, features, and prices

On the same page, when making a CPU comparison, the 7-nm lithography allows AMD to bundle much more cache memory on the Ryzen processors than Intel can. For the most part of the AMD Ryzen lineup, we get 32 and 64 MB of Level 3 cache memory. Only the older Ryzen 5 3500 and the entry-level Ryzen 3 3100 and Ryzen 3 3300X stop at 16 MB. Both Intel’s 11th Gen and 10th Gen Core processors feel outdated in this regard, as they offer only 16 MB MB of Smart cache memory on the high-end 11th Gen Core i9 processors and 20 MB on the 10th Gen Core i9 CPUs. Core i7 CPUs get even less - 16 MB (half of Ryzen 7 CPUs), Core i5 processors come with 12 MB, and on Core i3, you get 8 MB or even as little as 6 MB of cache memory.

AMD vs. Intel processors: Features

Both the Zen 3 and Zen 2 AMD Ryzen processors and Intel’s latest Gen 11 Core processors all feature support for PCI Express 4.0. So naturally, that means a whole lot more bandwidth is available on these processor lineups. However, Intel’s Core 10th Gen only supports PCI Express version 3.

With AMD Ryzen 5000 and 3000 processors, as well as with Intel’s 11th Gen CPUs, you get the best performance possible from high-end graphics cards that are PCIe 4-compatible, like those from the Nvidia GeForce RTX 3000 lineup or AMD’s Radeon RX 5000 and 6000 series. PCI Express 4 support also means that you can benefit from the fastest solid-state drives on the market. You can’t have that with an Intel from the10th Gen. So if you want to futureproof your computer, you’d be better prepared with an AMD Ryzen 3000 or 5000 processor, or with an Intel Core from the 11th generation.

Similarly, AMD’s Zen 3 and Zen 2 Ryzens and Intel’s 11th Gen Core processors natively support DDR4 RAM running at 3200 MHz. However, Intel’s 10th Gen Core CPUs only go as far as DDR4 at 2933 MHz.

INTEL Core 11th & 10th Gen processors specs, features, and prices

Finally, many Intel Core processors also have integrated graphics chips, while most desktop AMD Ryzens don’t. That can be handy in some computer configurations built for office work, for example.

AMD Ryzen vs. Intel processors: Price and value

One of the most important questions on anyone’s lips is probably which processors offer a better price per value? Although for regular daily work, both AMD and Intel processors are excellent choices, entry-level and mainstream AMD Zen 2 (Ryzen 3000) processors usually have lower prices than both 11th and 10th Gen Intel CPUs.

However, if you are looking for performance at a reasonable price, things are not that clear. AMD Ryzen 5000 processors offer similar performance to Intel Core processors from the 11th generation, but the latter ones are usually better priced than AMD’s counterparts.

If you plan on building an office computer, many Intel processors also come with built-in graphics, so, in the end, they may be a cheaper alternative. On the other hand, many of AMD’s older Zen 2 processors, which are still more potent than Intel’s 10th Gen CPUs, come with bundled stock coolers. That may make them more attractive, even if they don’t have integrated graphics chips. So, neither AMD nor Intel is better if you want to build a computer for office work.

Both Zen 2 and Zen 3 AMD CPUs are definitely a much better choice in terms of price per value when it comes to productivity. The mainstream Ryzen 7 and the high-end Ryzen 9 processors offer more cores and threads than similarly priced Intel CPUs, lower TDPs, and more cache memory. The conclusion: for productivity and multithreaded applications, we’d say go with an AMD Ryzen 7 or Ryzen 9. They offer better value than Intel’s options.

Check the following CPU comparison table if you’d like to compare the lineups of 2021’s Intel and AMD equivalents. We tried to cover all the essential details of both companies’ current desktop processors, including manufacturer suggested retail prices, hoping to help you make an informed decision.

AMD vs. Intel: Gaming

Finally, things are again mixed up for gaming: Intel’s 11th Gen processors’ single-core performance is top-notch and often better than what you get from AMD’s Ryzen 5000s. Even the older 10th Gen processors are sometimes faster in single-core usage than what you get from the older AMD Ryzen 3000 processors. However, the Ryzen 5000 processors are close to Intel in single-core high frequencies while also delivering better multi-thread performance.

Considering all that, we can’t definitely say that you should go with Intel or with AMD. An increasing number of games can benefit from multi-threading, so having more cores is undoubtedly a good choice for the future. On the other hand, single-core performance is an essential factor too.

Both Intel and AMD have great processors for gaming, so, in the end, we would advise you to start looking in your budget bracket and go on from there. Maybe you’ll end up with an Intel 11th Gen processor, or perhaps with an AMD Ryzen 5000 CPU. Just make sure you factor in everything from price, to the number of cores, to single-core speed and cache memory.

What processor will you choose for your next desktop computer? AMD or Intel?

In our opinion, these are the essential things you should know about 2021’s AMD’s Ryzen processors and Intel’s Core CPUs. Which ones do you like more, and why? Regardless of where your brand loyalty sits, which company do you think makes the best desktop processors these days? AMD or Intel? Use the comments section below to get in touch with us and let us know your opinion.

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